Dragon Skin and Feathers
I don’t think anyone would question that I have a bit of a material fetish. Why make something in a traditional material when you could use silicone, epoxy, or foam? I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I subscribe to the belief that silicone is the end all, be all material…for the next few months, then I’ll probably pick out a new material to play with. In the mean time, so long as my two gallon containers of unmixed silicone remain I think I will keep standing on tables and pouring silicone out of plastic cups.
So, what do you think I did when told to create a new material for Softness of Things? I could have booked a flight to the Carpathians and set up shop in a drafty castle for a week, mixing arcane substances and summoning demon guides to inspire my work (yes, I could have)…or I could start pouring silicone. Silicone is a material that I find particularly fascinating. I’ve talked before about my rational for using dragon skin: it’s translucent, tactility engaging, and is named dragon skin.
Better yet, the material spoke to our reading on material and materiality for this week. As observed in an analysis of the word, material: “although material designates physical matter, it also assumes potential from its association with non-physical matter.” While tangible, it has intangible associations. I feel this to be the case in many translucent materials where you have the proof of touch that they exist but can be next to imperceptible to sight. In this way, they exist to one sense and not to another. Considering what a visual culture we can be (I point to the dominance of screens), it is almost as if these materials exist outside of our culture. They are renegade materials that create and dictate a particular context of use. Such is the case of dragon skin, a partially translucent material that particularly engages the physical sense of touch. Thus, when asked to make a material, it was natural to me to employ silicone as the base.
Initially I wanted to focus on a quite literal interpretation of touch by designing a touch sensitive silicone surface. But I’m more interested in the conceptual exploration of tangibility and the ephemeral. Instead, I wanted to use something organic as a juxtaposition against the synthetic nature of silicone that also reenforcing the theme of intangibility. I decided that this material was feathers. I am enthralled by feathers because they are components of an activity that we were not gifted with: flight. According to Wikipedia “they are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates.” They are entrancingly delicate and ornate and are so soft, too.
Thus, I stripped the soft fluffy barbs from the Rachis (stalk like structure) of a feather, composed them in a tile mold to be drenched in silicone. The effect looks like something that you would find under a microscope…and I love it even more for that.
I want to make a blouse or dress out of this new material and present it in terms of being “Under the microscope.” It may be part of a series of embedded garments.